Virtual Clergy Session completed ‘smoothly’ amid pandemic

By Dan O’Mara

The Clergy Session of the 2020 South Carolina Annual Conference convened Aug. 1—the first time ever in virtual session because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

More than 500 pastors and other UMCSC clergy members participated through a secured Zoom Webinar and a separate secured voting platform, all facilitated by the conference’s media partner, Good News TV.

A limited number of conference leaders, staff and others needed to coordinate the meeting—along with candidates for ordination and clergy membership—gathered at Journey United Methodist Church in Columbia. Everyone in attendance wore a face mask and practiced social distancing, in accordance with COVID-19 guidance from state health officials.

“We were pleased at how smoothly the session went, especially since this was the first virtual gathering of this size that we have attempted,” said the Rev. Ken Nelson, conference secretary.

“The preparation and training offered by Good News TV, and the willingness of our clergy members to take advantage of it, made all the difference.

“Our chief priority was the health and well-being of all persons who participated in this process—those who attended virtually, and those who attended in person and were able to maintain a safe distance from one another.”

The Clergy Session meets annually to vote on the conference’s official responses to Business Questions required by The Book of Discipline, and on matters of clergy status within the conference, many of which are confidential in nature. It historically meets during the Annual Conference session.

However, the 2020 Annual Conference was postponed because of health concerns regarding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Clergy members voted on several matters that can be shared publicly, including the following:

Approvals and elections

The following have been approved for ordination as elders and elected as full members:

  • Kenneth David Freeman Jr., pastor, Emory UMC and Nazareth UMC in Saluda (Duke Divinity School, Advanced Course of Study graduate);
  • Cynthia Wolfe Muncie, pastor, Bethany UMC in Charleston (United Theological Seminary, M.Div., 2018);
  • Sammy Omar Juma Pazi, pastor, Greater St. Paul UMC in Cross (Gammon Theological Seminary, M.Div., 2017);
  • Nathan Smalls, pastor, Mount Carmel UMC in Charleston (Asbury Theological Seminary, M.Div., 2016);
  • Elizabeth Fulmer Sullivan, pastor, Point Hope UMC in Mount Pleasant (Asbury Theological Seminary, M.Div., 2015);
  • Frances Hillary Taylor, pastor, Bethany UMC and Zoar UMC in Saluda (Candler School of Theology, M.Div., 2018);
  • Brenda Joyce Thomas, pastor, St. Matthew UMC in Taylors (Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, M.Div., 2016);
  • Carole Anne Walters, pastor, Mountain View UMC in Greer (Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, M.Div., 2017);
  • Lisa Montque Way, voluntary leave, (Hood Theological Seminary, M.Div., 2017); and
  • Cheryl Elaine Yates, pastor, Bethel UMC, St. John UMC and Tabor UMC, (Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, M.Div., 2017).

Elected as provisional members on the deacon track:

  • Emma McClain Murphy, director of congregational care at Mt. Horeb UMC in Lexington (Duke Divinity School, M.Div., 2019); and
  • Soon Suck Nix, associate pastor, Korean Church of Atlanta (North Georgia Conference), (Candler School of Theology, M.Div., 2020).

Elected as provisional members on the elder track:

  • James Thornton Brown II, associate pastor, Belin Memorial UMC in Murrells Inlet (Candler School of Theology, M.Div., 2020);
  • William Douglas Herlong, associate
    pastor, St. John’s UMC in Aiken (Boston University School of Theology, M.Div., 2020);
  • Cameron Thomas Levi, pastor, Capers Chapel UMC and New Hope UMC, Pomaria, (Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, M.Div., 2020);
  • Tae Suk Park, associate pastor, Lyttleton Street UMC in Camden (Candler School of Theology, M.Div., 2020);
  • Bryan Wray Pigford, pastor, Stallsville UMC in Summerville (Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, M.Div., 2019);
  • Woongchul Daniel Ra, pastor, Columbia Korean UMC, Columbia (Garrett–Evangelical Theological Seminary, M.Div., 2013);
  • Andrew Warren Sizemore, pastor, Lebanon UMC in Eastover (Asbury Theological Seminary, M.Div., 2018); and
  • James David Taylor III, pastor, Beulah UMC in Sandy Run (Candler School of Theology, M.Div., 2020).

Remembering those lost

The Clergy Session also paused to remember members who have died over the past year:

Active elders: April Lee Hall (Feb. 27, 1963-June 14, 2019) and Wyatt Clifton Minton III (March 12, 1960-Feb. 12, 2020).

Active local pastors: Herman Alexander Black (July 6, 1964-Sept. 9, 2019), Marilyn Le’Cene Boyer (June 14, 1953- July 8, 2019) and Donald E. McAllister Sr. (March 10, 1960-June 3, 2019).

Retired elders: Philip Loren Bostrom (Feb. 8, 1950-Oct. 17, 2019), Barry Lewis Brown (Nov. 10, 1945-Nov. 3, 2019), Joe Kirkpatrick Brown (Dec. 27, 1930-April 13, 2020), George Powell Busch (Nov. 10, 1929-Nov. 19, 2019), John Christopher Detwiler (March 17, 1936-Feb. 25, 2020), Joseph Frazier (Dec. 7, 1936-Dec. 10, 2019), Arthur Melvin Gilliard (Feb. 23, 1931-May 5, 2020), Clifford Russell Gilmer (April 10, 1943-Sept. 7, 2019), Hugh Henry Hubbard (Aug. 5, 1932-Aug. 26, 2019), Rebecca Jean Huguley (Dec. 13, 1948-Oct. 25, 2019), Ernest Edwin LeMaster (Jan. 18, 1922-July 16, 2019), Alice Deissler Linder (July 22, 1930-March 1, 2020), Grace Lewellyn Lovell (Oct. 5, 1944-Feb. 3, 2020), Robert Edward McAuley (Jan. 11, 1936-Jan. 10, 2020), Theodore Bye McEachern (April 25, 1928-May 17 2020), James Donald Medley (Feb. 29, 1924-April 22, 2020), Jack Allen Poole (Sept. 23, 1936-Aug. 25, 2019), Ernest Wroten Prewett Jr. (March 6, 1937-Jan. 8, 2020), Gareth Delwyn Scott (March 25, 1940-March 16, 2020) and Jack Christopher Washington (Feb. 12, 1946-Sept. 28, 2019).

Retired local pastors: William Martin Burke (Dec. 31, 1942-March 20, 2020) and Alester Furman McKinney (April 26, 1930-Aug. 3, 2019).

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